Nathalie Moral: “You can’t inspire climate action through blame”
Nathalie Moral, CEO of Clima Now, uses her investment expertise to fight the climate crisis. Nathalie and her foundation believe in positive stories; the Clima Now Spotlight award is one way to highlight solutions instead of lamenting problems.
“We are called Clima Now and not Clima Tomorrow, because the climate crisis requires action right now”, explains the Swiss foundation’s CEO and co-founder Nathalie Moral. Clima Now tackles the crisis on three fronts: figuring out how to produce fewer emissions, absorbing the emissions we still do produce, as well as social and political change initiatives.
Clima Now is a foundation by structure but a venture by heart, Nathalie describes. The foundation invests in profitable climate innovations and supports non-profit initiatives. Examples of their investments include Blue Farm’s powdered vegan dairy alternatives, Einhundert Energie’s smart services around green and digital supply for tenants of multifamily homes, and Fermify’s domesticated microorganisms to make cheese without cow milk.
Nathalie studied business administration and honed her skills in finance and strategy working for consulting firms like PwC and Bain & Company. She pivoted into impact investing when she realized she didn’t want to spend the next 30 years of her life making profitable companies a little more profitable. Together with the Swiss family Meili, also behind the Clima Now foundation, Nathalie has been putting money to good use for years now.
“We were chasing a community that didn’t exist while ignoring the one we already had”
While Clima Now seeks direct impact through its investment and project portfolio, the foundation also aims at systemic impact by funding policy and advocacy work and by mobilizing a community. One of the most visible community tools Clima Now has to support and promote climate solutions is the annual Clima Now Spotlight award.
The Spotlight 2023 theme was on FOODprint – sustainable food production in Switzerland. Last week an expert panel picked Terra Preta as the winner of the main prize, CHF 100,000. The startup reduces carbon in the atmosphere and improves soil health and farmers’ margins by creating biochar from agricultural waste. Their focus is on coffee and cocoa farming - both very popular products in Switzerland! - and farms in the Global South. The second prize went to ProSeed for upcycling brewery by-products, while AgriCircle’s SmartRegenAg farmer consulting program came third.
Spotlight is also about democracy and ownership. Anyone can submit an idea to compete for the financial prizes and visibility, and the public also gets to pick the finalists. Nathalie points out that it’s not enough to give people a chance to voice their opinions; they also need to have a vote.
The word “community” comes up often in discussions with the Clima Now people. It’s a must: no individual foundation, company, or even a government can achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goals. One of Clima Now’s goals is to mobilize 100,000 people, but what exactly is “mobilization” and how can it be achieved? Nathalie admits the foundation is only now starting to have the answers. Clima Now struggled to recognize the people they could activate to join their initiatives. In a time when everyone wants to build a platform, people’s attention is spread very thin, Nathalie explains the challenge. Only a few months ago, the foundation saw that they’d been chasing a community that doesn’t exist while ignoring the one they’d already built: the Spotlight cohorts.
Nathalie adds that it’s not feasible to mobilize 100,000 people all at once. To reach that number, Nathalie elaborates, you need to find and enable champions to spread the spark further. For Clima Now, these champions are the people behind the Spotlight ideas and the growing alumni network.
“The new normal ten years from now will have higher quality of life”
Nathalie recognizes a lot of finger-pointing around climate change: we are quick to shame others for eating meat or flying. “Throwing tomato soup onto an art piece is not going to mobilize anyone who’s not already in your bubble”, she asserts. We need positive stories and ideas – such as the Spotlight initiatives.
Climate action is a marathon, not a sprint. Yet Nathalie believes that mere ten years from now we'll have different conversations about where we get the energy we use, how we move around, how our cities look like, and what kind of food we eat. Nathalie expects the transition to feel scary, but the result will be worth it: today’s challenges will become a new normal, and this new normal will have a higher quality of life.
And then we continue the work.
This article is partially based on this podcast episode.